Promising Playwright, January 2015
“It was just fluid, it flowed with me. It just came in my head and I wrote it down.”
One of the most profound impacts of the artistic process is its ability to promote empathy. Diving into the mind of a character to unearth his or her unique motivations and circumstances teaches the artist about the shared qualities of human life. Quanisha Mitchell, a Junior at Woodrow Wilson High School, feels that empathy deeply.
“Javon has a dream of having a home, having somebody to love him, and I think everybody deserves that,” she says about the protagonist of her play, Javon’s Dream.
Javon’s Dream, which Quanisha wrote in our In-School Playwriting Program in 2013, tells the story of a homeless teenager living on the streets of Atlanta and the romance that helps him get back on his feet. “I realized a lot of teens nowadays are homeless," she says, "especially [in Atlanta]. I’ve also looked up the research on the rates of homeless teenagers in Georgia and it’s at a real high rate."
When given the chance to write a play, Quanisha decided to explore this topic, and set out to imagine what life might be like for a homeless teen. “Thinking why was he homeless, what happened throughout those years, how he’s become homeless,” challenged Quanisha to immerse herself completely in Javon's life. The result is a play that is both laugh-out-loud funny and heartbreakingly poignant, that captures the experience of homelessness within a moving and satisfying narrative.
Struck by Javon's Dream's gentle humor, Quanisha’s Teaching Artist nominated it for the 2014 New Play Festival. The play was selected as a Finalist and will be performed by professional actors at New Writers Now! #nofilter in February. “I was so excited," says Quanisha. "I’m still excited. I really didn’t think it was going to get that far.”
As for Quanisha, she too has a dream: to move to Atlanta or North Carolina, to study dance or learn to style hair. “I’ve been thinking of writing a book,” she adds, “a nonfiction book [about] ... the things in the real world, like society itself.” Judging from the insight and care Quanisha brought to Javon's Dream, we are sure that her book will be a best-seller.